Letter to my Little One–25

Power and Authority…

November 22, 2006

Dear Little One,
It really amused me to read your post about “Power”! I just wondered that a few months in the power hub and my Little one has starting questioning the influence power has in one’s life as well as on others life. And when you question “whether ‘absolute power’ does exist?” I thought of putting the matter, as far as I could, straight for you to understand. Though what I write is may be my perspective and not be completely correct, and you are free to disagree.

Power is a term which connotes so many feelings and one starts picturing all those concrete pictures that stand for power because power a such being an abstract word is a concept and can have different connotations for different people. Say for that matter a strict mother may be what power stands for! J Though your query deals with power balance at work places but as these days I am busy talking to you about some words of wisdom! J I am dealing with this query from a social and psychological point of view.

Well if we go into detail and try understanding another word loosely synonymous with power, it is authority. In Indian social context authority, which is men’s prerogative, is the right to command and to be obeyed. Now thinking along these lines we understand that in Indian society, being patriarchal in nature, men assert authority. It is simple. The head of the family…. etc etc. But power on the other hand is the real influence creator. Power is the ability to influence how things happen, even though one does not have the formal authority to determine what is done.

Think of an average Indian family and analyze as objectively as you can the one who has authority and the one who uses power. I know I am getting you confused. Even in families where the common governing rule is “women must follow their husbands” we find that practically all power is used or abused by women. Women often have considerable power in patriarchal societies, even though they have little or no authority. Is it not paradoxical? The one who has literally no authority uses all the power and the one who has authority is happy thinking about his authoritative position. The best analogy that comes to my mind is the functioning of a Parliamentary form of Government where the President is the head of the nation but for all practical purposes it is the Prime Minister, with his cabinet, who wields real power.

Similarly, in a situation of “mythical male dominance”, both men and women say that men control society. But when the society is observed closely and impartially, women actually have considerable influence, though that influence is not acknowledged openly by either men or women.

Perhaps this is what actually is convenience of mind at work to smoothly run society where men are happy imagining to head the family and women enjoy all the power and take all important decisions under the tutelage of a figure head male authoritative figure. Delegation of power you may say. Though there may be stray cases where the authority and power may be vested in the same person. Nothing bad about that.

And at workplaces as well the same principle is at work. Sometimes the person in authority uses the power that comes to him by virtue of his position himself and sometimes someone else may use the power though the authority remains with the head. So when you desire for power keep one simple truth in mind that power must be used to bring positive influence in others life the way you noticed today.

When power is misused, it brings about chaos in society and social structures and the result is pain and hurt all around. The Indian mythology eulogies Goddess in the form of Shakti as it is creative power, a positive influence but in its destructive form it becomes Kali which destroys all evil. So the power in both its forms is shown to be useful for society. In spite of this when Kali was bent on destruction and nothing could stop her, it was God Shiva, her husband, who stopped her. You must have seen the expressions on the face of Kali when she steps up on Shiva! Embarrassment!

But we are average human beings and when power comes to our hands there is every chance that it could be misused. aI don’t think that I need to say any more as you understand all this power game and the havoc it can play. It is rightly said that “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

The choice is yours as it is the world you would be creating where benevolent influence of power would create positive vibrations and destructive influence of power would generate negative vibrations and I am sure my Little One would not love to be surrounded with negative ones!





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